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Review – Crafthouse Bottled Cocktails

Posted by Reese on 2014-11-11 @ 05:23pm

Bottled cocktails, mixers and the like are something I’ve usually shied away from.  Typically something that comes from a bottle is going to taste, well, like it came from a bottle.  The fruit juices are flat, the herbal notes are muddy, bleh.  So, I was naturally a bit apprehensive when I was offered review samples of Crafthouse Bottled Cocktails.  The apprehension began to fade as I heard they were being crafted and produced by the USBG’s 2014 World Class winner Charles Joly.  Okay, you’ve got the cocktail cred, do you have the flavor to match?

Crafthouse Cocktails

Crafthouse is currently producing three classic cocktails with natural ingredients, premium spirits and a close eye on the flavor and replication of the classic recipes.  And they’re doing a damn fine job of it.

Paloma – This is one of my favorite summertime cocktails and the Crafthouse version is very well done and disappeared alarmingly quickly.  The grapefruit flavor was very fresh and natural.  The flavor is much closer to a Paloma made with fresh grapefruit juice than grapefruit soda so expect a light bitterness.  For me, the bitterness is perfect though and makes the drink that much more refreshing on a hot day.

Southside – If you’ve not heard of a Southside, think Mojito made with gin.  The lime and mint flavors are very fresh and natural tasting but masked the gin notes a bit more than I would have liked.  I am a gin nut though.  While I liked this recipe, the other two edge it out on the favorites list.

Moscow Mule – Wow! The ginger flavor in this cocktail is intense.  If you’ve ever had fresh, homemade ginger beer this is exactly the flavor you’ll find here.  Crisp ginger, tart lemon and just carbonated enough to make it refreshing.  Excellent version of a cocktail that is becoming hugely popular again.

All that aside, here’s the pressing question.  Would I buy these over making my own?  Absolutely.  If I was headed to a party and wanted to bring a cocktail but didn’t feel like standing behind the counter making each one by hand, I’d reach for these in a minute.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Dickel Dozen – Challenges

Posted by Reese on 2014-11-07 @ 09:15pm

My bottle of George Dickel Barrel Program Tennessee Whisky arrived earlier this week* and with it some challenges.  I’m up for a challenge, so I’ll be posting my answers to Twitter/Facebook in the coming few days.  So you’re not totally caught un-aware, here are the questions prompting my answers.

George Dickel Barrel Program Tennessee Whisky

  • Share a photo of you sippin’ George Dickel in the most peaceful place you know.
  • If you could pick anyone to share a glass of George Dickel with, who would it be?
  • What is your go-to toast when enjoying George Dickel with friends?
  • Share a photo of something you enjoy crafting that’s #HandMadeTheHardWay.
  • What three words best describe the taste of George Dickel’s Barrel Program Whisky?

 

* It’s damn good. More on that later.

Homemade Orange Bitters

Posted by Reese on 2014-11-04 @ 05:27pm

Lately I’ve been drinking a lot of carbonated water at work and at home.  My favorite way to drink it is with quite a few dashes of bitters.  While I like the flavor of aromatic bitters (and I’ve been using a previous batch frequently), I prefer fruit bitters.  Having barreled through a couple bottles of Fee Brothers bitters I decided to try making my own orange bitters.  Here is the recipe from my first batch.

Orange Bitters Steeping

Reese's Orange Bitters (Batch 1)
Peel of 2 Oranges (including pith) sliced thin
Zest of 2 Oranges
3 Cinnamon Sticks Broken into Pieces
15-20 Cloves
2-3 Cups Vodka
1) Combine the above  in a jar and let it steep for a week
2) Strain through a metal sieve
3) Re-strain through a clean paper towel to get the fine particulate out

Okay, so that was batch 1 which netted about 20 oz of really tasty orange bitters.  They were lightly sweet, with a really fresh orange flavor.  The spices were there but not overpowering.  They lasted all of about 2 months.  Sooo…wanting a little more output and some additional flavors, I moved on to batch 2.

Reese's Orange Bitters (Batch 2)
Peel of 3 Oranges (including pith) sliced thin
Zest of 1 Orange
8 Cinnamon Sticks Broken into Pieces
15-20 Cloves
15-20 Allspice Berries
2 Cups Vodka
2 Cups Water
1) Combine the above  in a jar and let it steep for a week
2) Strain through a metal sieve
3) Re-strain through a clean paper towel to get the fine particulate out

This batch netted about 3.5 cups (30 oz) but the flavor isn’t as robust.  The orange flavor is more subtle (and the color is notably lighter).  The bitter notes are a bit more pronounced, likely from the extra pith.  Finally the spice qualities are about the same.  Going to be good for water flavoring, but not as powerful as I was hoping.

So, for batch 3, I’ll definitely be going back to something closer to batch 1.  I think the extra zest (versus whole peel) gives more orange punch and the lower quantity of liquid made the end product more concentrated.  Go figure, right?  Though, I’m liking the additional spices.  Likely my next batch will retain the allspice and possibly add ginger or cardamom to the mix.

What I’m Drinking Now: Autumn Sour

Posted by Reese on 2014-10-30 @ 05:34pm

Autumn is upon us good hackers and what better way to celebrate the season than with a cocktail!  Wanting a drink reminiscent of fall with flavors to match, I reached for whiskey, apple and a touch of cinnamon and came out with a cocktail that’s easy to drink and very tasty.

 

Autumn Sour


Autumn Sour
1 1/2 oz Whiskey *
1 oz Lemon Juice
2 oz Apple Cider
1/2 oz Cinnamon Liqueuer **
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
1) Combine everything in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled and strain into a cocktail glass
3) Garnish with a dried or fresh apple slice

* I went with a blend of 1 oz Johnnie Walker Red Label and 1/2 oz Rye. I wanted a light smokey note from the Scotch with the spiciness of the rye. However, you can (and should) use whatever suits your taste.

** If you can track down Fyr from J&L Distilling in Boulder, CO DO IT!  So tasty.  If not, I’d recommend using a more complex cinnamon liqueur like Original Cinn from Hiram Walker.

Dickel Dozen Introduction

Posted by Reese on 2014-10-27 @ 05:20pm

I’m happy (seriously bordering on giddy) to announce that I’ve been asked to participate in the Dickel Dozen program. Brand Ambassador Doug Kragel will be selecting a special barrel of George Dickel whiskey that I’ll then get to sample. The video included below is a quick introduction to the George Dickel distillery, their process and whiskey.

Once the bottle arrives, I’ll be posting some tasting notes and more of my thoughts. If you’re local and want to help me analyze (fancy word for drink) the special bottle of George Dickel, definitely let me know!